Originally published: 2/9/2021.

Sometimes it feels like COVID-19 has brought so much despair and uncertainty to our lives that it feels like we’re living under a dark cloud.

That’s why it’s important to think about the things we can learn from the pandemic. To find positive impacts we can hold on to, and that can help us to live better lives.

Even the darkest clouds have silver linings. Here are a few worth considering.

1. Cleaner air, cleaner oceans

The positive environmental impact of planes being grounded, reduced vehicles on roads and fewer cruise ships at sea is undeniable. We’re all breathing in cleaner air – cleaner than it was even 50 years ago1 in some cases. The lockdown has also given the world’s oceans some much needed breathing space2.

While the pandemic may have pressed pause on pollution, the reprieve may only be temporary. To keep our air and water healthy over the longer term will require a shift to cleaner energy and transportation. But the pandemic shows how fast we can bring down pollution levels when we use less fossil fuels.

2. Working from home
For many employees, the prospect of working from home simply wasn’t an option before COVID-19. Now it’s a daily reality. And while many of us miss being in an office environment, a mandated period of remote working has brought some unexpected benefits.

The lockdown has proven that remote working is possible on a bigger scale than many employers thought, which could have a huge positive impact in the future. Less commuting will mean less crowded buses, trains, traffic jams and transport costs, saving everyone time and money. Indeed, the pandemic has resulted in record U.S. savings rates3 encouraging many of us to pay down debt and spend more time on financial planning.

3. Getting closer to family and friends

It’s ironic that a pandemic, that has kept us physically apart, has brought families and friends closer together than ever before. Inside our bubbles, many of us are still rediscovering board games, doing puzzles together and making fun TikTok videos.

While working parents have had to juggle the demands of home schooling with remote working, it’s also afforded parents the chance to spend more time with their kids.

Outside of social pods, technology has given us uniquely innovative opportunities to connect with loved ones. This has been hard at times, but it’s also allowed us all to take stock of those who are most important in our lives and create moments that wouldn’t have happened in the hustle of pre-lockdown life.

4. A new interest in personal well-being

Another positive to take from the pandemic is the impact it has had on personal self-care and mental wellbeing. Not only has the lockdown given us more time to practice healthier routines and better eating habits, it has given us more time to reflect on our lifestyles and make healthier decisions for the long term.

By making activities like meditation, yoga and jogging a daily routine during COVID-19, people will be more likely to make it a priority when life returns to some sort of normality, delivering a variety of benefits such as better-quality sleep, stress relief and an overall improvement in mood.

5. Choosing to stay local

COVID-19 has also had a significant impact on how we feel about our neighborhoods, making many of us appreciate our local community and the amazing things people do to support each other during challenging times. Neighbors are no longer strangers. Small businesses are stepping up to support their local customers through challenging times. 

New York Life’s Love Takes Action series collects inspiring stories of individuals who stood up when their communities were down in the midst of COVID-19. With different states continuing to roll out a patchwork of restrictions on social distancing across the country, it’s clear we’re all still being encouraged to make the most of the opportunity to continue to create a greater sense of community with our neighbors – and that is something to look forward to.

6. The healing power of pets

The health benefits of pet ownership were well-documented before COVID-19. Having a four-legged friend can help reduce loneliness and anxiety and increase happiness endorphins. Animals have been a lifesaver for many during lockdown, providing companionship and consistency in uncertain times.

That’s why so many people without pets saw the pandemic as an opportunity to bring one home. Last year saw huge increases in the number of dogs, cats and other animals being introduced to new families, with shelters and charities reporting an increase in fostering and adoptions4.

7. The importance of hope

As important as it is to recognize the traumas of COVID-19 and not ignore them, it’s helpful to look for the silver linings and the positive impacts too. They are the ones that give us hope.

Above all, the pandemic has driven home how we connect and collectively care for each other during a crisis. These are still uncertain times, for all of us, but New York Life is built for times like these. We’re all in this together. We will all get through this together and come out stronger.

Go back to our newsroom to read more stories.

Media contact
Kevin Maher
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-6955

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1 Science. 2021. Pollution made COVID-19 worse. Now, lockdowns are clearing the air.. [online] Available at: <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/04/pollution-made-the-pandemic-worse-but-lockdowns-clean-the-sky/> [Accessed 2 February 2021].

     2 Environment Journal. 2021. Coronavirus lockdown giving world's oceans much-needed breathing space - Environment Journal. [online] Available at: <https://environmentjournal.online/articles/coronavirus-lockdown-giving-worlds-oceans-much-needed-breathing-space/> [Accessed 2 February 2021].

    3 Bea.gov. 2021. Personal Saving Rate | U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). [online] Available at: <https://www.bea.gov/data/income-saving/personal-saving-rate> [Accessed 2 February 2021].

    4 Washington Post. 2020. Dog adoptions and sales soar during the pandemichttps [online] Available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/12/adoptions-dogs-coronavirus/> [Accessed 2 February 2021].